Souvenirs from Hitler’s bunker and a Turner watercolour among auction highlights

9th November 2017

Souvenirs from Hitler’s bunker and a Turner watercolour are among highlights at an antiques auction in the Cotswolds later this month.

A paperknife in the form of a Luftwaffe dress dagger, a Faithful Service Medal awarded to German civilian workers, and a piece of marble are expected to achieve between £500 to £800 when they go under the hammer at Moore Allen & Innocent’s selected antiques sale in Cirencester on Friday, November 24.

The memorabilia was originally acquired by the late wing commander Ronald Mason, of Swindon, who arrived in Berlin as a young flight lieutenant at the end of the second word war.

Granted access to Hitler’s ruined chancellory by Russian troops, the airman traded 20 cigarettes from the items – along with handwritten notes the Nazi dictator made ahead of a speech to the Reichstag in 1939 – from a German civilian who had worked in Hitler’s office.

The notes were authenticated and sold at auction – along with the other items – for £12,000 back in January 2000. This is believed to be the first time since that auction that the paperknife, medal and piece of marble have been offered for sale again.

Auctioneer Philip Allwood said: “Normally, a medal like this would command an estimate of £50 to £80, while the paperknife might make £30 to £50. The marble – had it been anything other than a paperweight on the desk of Adolf Hitler himself – would be worthless.

“But with the connection to Hitler’s bunker, who’s to say what these will make?”

Whatever interest they garner, they’re unlikely to sell for more than an original watercolour by JMW Turner, though.

The Castle at Tancarville, Normandy is one of five known coloured sketches made by Turner of the landscape in 1832. A similar sketch forms part of the national collection at The Tate.

The 17x14cm sketch is expected to achieve £15,000 to £20,000.

And if the Turner is upstaged, it’s likely to be by The Godolphin Arabian in a Walled Yard, an oil on canvas painted by the Irish artist Daniel Quigley (1750-1778).

The Godolphin Arabian was one of three stallions that founded the modern Thoroughbred. He was named after his best-known owner, the 2nd Earl of Godolphin.

Foaled in 1724 he was given to Louis XV of France in 1730, before being brought to England. He never raced, but spent his entire life at a stud farm.

The composition is thought to derive from an original by David Morier (1705-1770). Other versions of the 38 x 48 inch painting by Quigley are now in the National Horseracing Museum, Newmarket and in the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven.

Godolphin carries an estimate of £40,000 to £60,000.

Undoubtedly the oldest lot in the sale is an 18cm tall iron age Cypriot pottery wine jug with roundel decoration and similar near-matching urn. Dating from around 800BC, the pottery is expected to achieve between £300 and £500.

Elsewhere, a large collection of dozens of snuff boxes is not to be sniffed at. Made from silver, tortoiseshell, Chinese hardstone, glass, porcelain and brass, each is expected to achieve between £50 and £200, with a couple of notable exceptions.

An English hallmarked silver snuff mull mounted on a ram’s head with Scottish thistle form casters carries an estimate of £500 to £800, while a six inch wide snuff box, which is attributed to the 19th century Glasgow-based wood carver Blind Jack, and features a scene from Burns’ epic poem Tam o'Shanter, is expected to achieve between £150 and £250.

While either would make a conversation-starting addition to any Burns supper table, another carving will be of relevance far sooner.

A nativity scene carved from limewood in Bavaria in the late 15th century, and featuring a medieval-looking Mary and Joseph, along with shepherds, angels and onlookers snatching a peek through stable windows, the 30cm tall relief is expected to achieve £5,000 to £8,000, while a George III carved oak royal coat of arms in the manner of Dutch-British sculptor Grinling Gibbons, known for his carvings at Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace, and St Paul's Cathedral, carries an estimate of £2,000 to £3,000.

Staying on a royal theme, a silver gilt mounted peeress coronation crown, designed by silversmith Alexander J Strachan for the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1838, is expected to achieve £1,000 to £1,500.

And for collectors of royal memorabilia, what better Christmas gift than a full set of wedding stationery from the 1981 nuptials of Prince Charles and Princess Diana?

All of the stationery for the royal wedding was printed by Harrison & Sons of London, and a set was presented by the managers to a young graphic designer – a huge fan of Lady Diana.

The set includes invitations to the wedding ceremony, breakfast, reception, and supper. There are seating plans, an order of service, and acknowledgement cards. Bids of between £4,000 and £6,000 are anticipated.

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Press release issued on behalf of Moore Allen & Innocent. Property Consultants and Managers. Land and Estate Agents. Auctioneers and Chartered Surveyors. 01285 646050.

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